Google acquires health-tech startup founded by Indian serial entrepreneur

Google's has acquired Senosis Health startup founded by Shwetak Patel which has developed three apps that can turn smartphones in to monitoring devices

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Search giant, Google, has acquired a Seattle based health tech startup, Senosis Health. The health monitoring startup claims to turn smartphones into medical devices that can collect several health statistics. According to several media reports, the startup was founded by Indian origin Shwetak Patel, a professor in the University of Washington and visiting researcher at Microsoft.

According to media reports, Senosis Health had recently come out of stealth mode and developed three applications to monitor Hemoglobin, Lung health and early jaundice screening, using the inbuilt functions of the phone such as camera, flash, accelerometer and microphone.

For example the HemaApp uses the phone’s camera and flash to check the Hemoglobin count. Conditions such as malnutrition, pulmonary illness and anemia, can cause fluctuations in the hemoglobin levels.

SpiroSmart and SpiroCall apps use the microphone to measure the lung function. While SpiroSmart turns the microphone into a spirometer SpiroCall provides the option to call a toll free number that to check the same – extended to those who are not having a smartphone. By turning the microphone into a spirometer, the app can screen for asthma, pulmonary illness or cystic fibrosis.

Another app BiliCam uses the camera to screen for newborn jaundice disease. Instead of looking for pale skin the app looks for amounts of bilirubin in the blood by examining wavelengths of light absorbed by the skin.

According to the company, the apps can not only be used for screening but also help monitor nutritional well being in communities exterminating the need of expensive blood draws. Also the apps are able to deliver immediate results and eliminate the reservations about sample contamination and infection.

As of now Google’s plan with Senosis Health is unknown and how will it fit into the company’s growing health-tech portfolio has not been established. The parent, Alphabet, has invested in various bio-tech and health-tech firms since the last few years. Recently its life-sciences division Verily invested in Freenome, a bio-tech startup that is developing tools to detect early stage cancer. Lift Labs was also acquired and incorporated in Verily. Google has also launched DeepMind Health last year to create a suite of applications that will help doctors identify illness and conditions quickly.

According to reports from GeekWire, this is not Patel’s first venture, prior to setting up Senosis, he has been the founder of Zensi, an energy monitoring solutions provider that was acquired by Belkin in 2010. He has also another startup venture to his name called WallyHome sensor technology that detects changes in moisture, temperature, and humidity, which was bought by Sears in 2015.

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